tv NBC Nightly News NBC August 21, 2013 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
firefighters get a control over this a little better over the neck 48 hours but it is very tough. >> nightly news up next. on the broadcast tonight, the arsenal. 500 rounds of ammo. tonight, we're learning just how deadly it could have been in that school near atlanta. plus the chilling 911 call from the woman who talked down the gunman. was it chemical warfare? word of unimaginable atrocities in syria. so many children killed as they slept. how will the world respond? the hot shots. an exclusive look at the elite teams putting their lives on the line to fight wildfires, and tonight the flames are closing in on a national treasure. and the final hours of the nixon tapes. for thfirst time tonight, secret recordings at the height of watergate right after the moment they pulled the plug. "nightly news" begins now. good evening.
good evening. i'm lester holt in for brian. what we have learned in the 24 hours or so after a heavily armed man barged into an atlanta area school is beyond frightening and comes as a jarring reminder of what happened just eight months ago in newtown, connecticut, and what could have happened yesterday. police in georgia say the alleged gunman had nearly 500 bullets and was apparently prepared for a violent showdown with police when he entered the mcnair discovery learning academy. also new tonight details of his criminal record and what his lawyer said today about his mental state. our national correspondent kate snow is in dekalb county, georgia, with the latest for us. kate? >> reporter: good evening, lester. this school has a lot of security. a double front door, you have to be buzzed to get in. but the gunman was able to closely follow someone into the school. 800 children were inside the
classrooms and yet not one was hurt. >> sounded like a shootout. >> reporter: a self-portrait of michael hill, who took an ak-47 assault rifle and close to 500 rounds of ammunition into an elementary school. >> do not let anybody in the building including no police. >> reporter: and today another portrait emerged of the fast-thinking school bookkeeper in the front office who dialed 911. >> he said he don't care, he have nothing to live for. >> reporter: she relayed messages from the shooter to the operator with hill darting outside to shoot at police. >> where are you? >> i'm in the front office. oh, he just went outside and started shooting. >> okay. >> reporter: three sheriff's investigators who specialize in high-risk situations were just feet away from the front door. >> i can handle anything in my profession, but i can't handle something happening to an innocent child. just, you know, you dig deep. >> reporter: as teachers texted each other to stay calm, tuft calmly talked to the gunman
sharing personal stories, slowly convincing him to surrender. that's a good thing that you just giving up and don't worry about it. we all go through something in life. >> i peeked around the corner. i saw him on the floor. >> it's him. >> we got him. we got him. >> reporter: today hill's public defender said the 20-year-old suspect has a long history of mental health issues. last december, michael hill threatened on facebook to shoot his brother in the head and not think twice about it. that led to felony charges and a sentence of three years' probation. >> how does someone on probation get ahold of an ak-47 and walk into a school? >> we're currently going over that. >> reporter: police say hill obtained the weapon from the home of an acquaintance. teachers today said practicing intruder alert drills every few months have really helped. >> i'm with fifth grade so they've been practicing it for years. so they knew exactly what to do, and they just went into that mode. >> reporter: students were sent to the local high school today with counselors on hand. >> we want you to share with us your feelings, your thoughts. >> reporter: the entire
community so thankful yesterday ended the way it did. >> all the kids went home to their parents last night, just the happiest ending that you could ask for. >> reporter: the school made some changes after newtown and the principal tells me that those changes included what miss tuff and other people did. it all went just as they had rehearsed. they're already getting calls from other school districts around the country, lester, asking them for some solutions, asking for policies that work. lester? >> all right, kate. there have been at least five incidents of school violence since the shootings at sandy hook elementary in newtown, and like so many of us yesterday, when people there heard what happened in georgia, the reaction was, please, not again. today ann curry spent the day in newtown with some of the parents, determined to make sure children are safe at school. >> reporter: today an emotional ricochet for two parents in newtown, connecticut, where last december 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down at sandy hook elementary. their deaths shocked america and forced their parents into action.
marquez greene, who lost her 6-year-old, anna, and mark barden, who lost his 7-year-old, daniel, were stunned by yesterday's shooting. >> here we are the day after an individual stormed into a school with an assault rifle, into an elementary school. >> and there's silence. we are a nation in denial. and one day we're going to look back at this moment in history and say we should have acted earlier, because no parent should ever have to worry about getting their child off a bus when we send them to school. >> reporter: in the eight months since they last saw their children, newtown parents have campaigned for gun reform. it passed in two states, connecticut and colorado, but failed at the federal level. what was your reaction when the federal legislation failed for gun reform? >> it was frustrating, but it was also round one. and i feel like we are in mile one of a marathon. >> reporter: how many rounds?
or how many miles? >> as many as it takes. >> until we get it done. >> reporter: these newtown parents also cautioned against neglecting troubled young people. that actually might be interpreted as being empathy for the illness of the man who pulled the trigger that killed your son. >> my son, daniel, was known by his teachers as an unusually empathetic little boy who would notice somebody sitting alone and ask to go comfort that person. the individual that killed our children was also that little boy that sat alone. >> reporter: a mother and father still in grief and after yesterday's shooting still fighting. >> i didn't feel i was reliving my own stuff. i felt more determined, even more determined than i was before, and convicted to help protect other mothers from going through what i have to live every day.
>> reporter: since sandy hook, the national education association says there is a trend towards beefing up school security nationwide. but according to a gallup poll released just today, parents by a margin of 2-1 favor increased mental health spending over hiring armed guards, lester. >> the emotions still raw. i don't think any of us will forget that day. ann, thank you. our next story is frankly going to be difficult to watch, but the images you're about to see are so important because they're being held up tonight by syrian rebels as evidence of what may be the worst chemical weapons attack anywhere since saddam hussein gassed iraqi kurds in 1988. if these claims are true, it could mean a new level of horror in an already bloody war now in its third year. joining us with the latest is our chief foreign correspondent, richard engle. richard? >> reporter: good evening, lester. syrian rebels say hundreds, perhaps well over 1,000 civilians were killed, and again, these images are disturbing.
the dead covered the floors of improvised clinics. no visible injuries, no blood. they appear to be sleeping. survivors were doused with water to wash off the chemicals rebels say killed so many. their symptoms, shortness of breath, dilated pupils, and panic. this girl shouts, "i'm alive, i'm still alive." as a man tries to calm her. her parents and sister did not survive. about a third of the dead are children, rebels say, their bodies laid out in rows, killed as they slept in their homes. we spoke by skype to an opposition activist near the attacks. >> we still having this on earth where we can see how assad is killing those innocent children just because we said that we want freedom, we want our dignity back? >> reporter: these are some of the least graphic images from dozens of videos released by the
syrian opposition and unverified by nbc news. many too disturbing to broadcast. >> that is disturbing and horrible. >> reporter: we showed the footage to an independent chemical weapons expert. >> these pictures are obviously compatible with the well-known symptoms of nerve gas attack. >> reporter: not one attack, rebels say, but a barrage of surface-to-surface rockets filled with poison gas and fired at at least ten villages outside damascus early this morning. the syrian government denies using chemical weapons, something president obama has warned against. >> that's a red line for us, and there would be enormous consequences. >> reporter: but washington never backed up that threat, even after u.s. intelligence said in june that syria had used chemical weapons. inaction, rebels say, that embolden the syrian regime but now go much further. what was never supposed to
happen again seems to be happening again and again. today's alleged atrocities took place just a few miles away from u.n. inspectors. they were denied access to the affected areas by the syrian government. the white house is demanding a full investigation. >> all right, richard. thank you. bradley manning, the army private at the center of the wikileaks scandal has been sentenced to 35 years behind bars. the harshest punishment ever in the u.s. for leaking to the media. manning, a former intelligence analyst analyst, was found guilty last month of leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents to wikileaks. he'll serve his time at the ft. leavenworth prison in kansas. with credit for good time served and good behavior, he could be out in seven years. we're learning more tonight about the health challenge for bo biden, the son of the vice president, who is also the attorney general of delaware. we learned today that emts were called to the house two weeks ago to help someone in distress,
and we know he went in for a procedure last night at a top cancer center in houston. chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman is here. what do we know about this tonight? >> we know how he was admitted to m.d. anderson cancer center and he did undergo a procedure last night. that procedure is being described as a complicated biopsy. you can read from that that it's likely that there was a tumor or some type of tissue left behind from this mass that was biopsied. we do know that he had a restful night. there have not been any complications, which means he's expected to go home tomorrow. but these can be frustrating times for families because families want answers, and sometimes if there's a complicated biopsy, it means you just don't have enough tissue to really make a definitive diagnosis, so now it will be days or weeks until that diagnosis is made and i can guarantee you the doctors between m.d. anderson and his doctors in philadelphia will be talking and sharing information
daily to try to figure out exactly what this is. perhaps this procedure he had will take away the risk of stroke that he's had and then form late a really strong plan going forward. >> all right. dr. nancy, thanks for the update. >> you bet. tonight we're hearing from the first time from hannah anderson. she's the 16-year-old who was held hostage in the idaho wilderness for six days before being rescued. she decided to speak with nbc news to thank people for their support during her ordeal and address some of the inaccurate reports surrounding her capture. in a conversation to air tomorrow morning on "today," she credits the amber alert system for saving her life and calls herself a survivor. >> in the beginning i was a victim, but now, knowing everyone out there is helping me, i consider myself a survivor instead. my mom raised me to be strong. >> hannah anderson, brave and grateful tonight. you can hear what she has to say tomorrow morning on "today." still ahead tonight, rare access. a wild view of the most
tonight there are more than 50 massive fires burning out of control across the country, including this new fire getting dangerously close to yosemite national park, closing roads and forcing evacuations. tonight nbc news has been granted rare access to the fight against the worst fire of them all, the one burning in idaho. nbc's miguel almaguer has our report. >> reporter: all right. here we go. after a safety briefing, we were airborne. nbc news given a rare look over the burn zone, 106,000 acres, an area the size of denver.
our pilot, michael leary, a veteran flying this cascade range. the pilots are well trained, but they have to contend with blinding smoke and shifting winds. even at 8,000 feet above the beaver creek fire, you can feel the heat, smell the smoke, but it's the size of this fire. it's endless. >> that's the toughest part for pilots. the toughest part is just the visible, seeing where you're going and avoiding other aircraft. >> reporter: the firefight from above is an aerial ballet of helicopters and big-swing plane, crisscrossing the skies, shoveling loads of water and retardant. they're making progress. evan is the chief of operations. >> the aircraft is really excellent to slow down fire bands, but the ultimate goal is we have to get boots on the ground, firefighters there to secure the fire line. >> reporter: nearly 2,000 firefighters are battling this blaze. our nbc news team embedded with the pike hot shot crew from
monument, colorado. the elite unit of 22 will sleep, eat, and breathe fire for two weeks as they carve containment lines around the blaze in concert with helicopters dropping 2,000 gallons of water. >> going to keep dropping water on us so we get it knocked down. once he gets it knocked down, we'll get down there and start to anchor. >> reporter: from above you can see the blaze still making runs. there's plenty of dry fuel to feed it. how long could a fire like this burn? >> this could go for weeks. >> reporter: but progress is being made every day. a firefight like we rarely have seen it before. miguel almaguer, nbc news, over the beaver creek fire. we're back in a moment with what was a rough night for president nixon, caught on tape and public for the very first time.
more of richard nixon's secrets are being revealed tonight. you're about to hear what he said in the oval office in a very troubled state of mind during some of the darkest days of watergate, part of a new trove of tapes released today. and i'll just tell you straight up, some of the language is a bit coarse. nbc's pete williams has more on the newly released nixon tapes, including a phone call from a supporter who would one day himself become president. >> reporter: in the spring of 1973, richard nixon is a president under siege, facing daily revelations about his administration's role in the watergate scandal. >> this office is a sacred trust. >> reporter: after the speech and apparently after a few drinks, nixon talked with his friend haldeman by phone, expletives undeleted. >> reporter: california's governor ronald reagan phones in
to offer support. >> we're still behind you out here, and i wanted you to know that you're in our prayers. >> each of us has a different religion, you know. >> yeah. >> but damn it, ron, we have got to build peace in the world. how'd you ever marry such a pretty girl? my god. >> well, just -- i'm lucky. >> you're lucky? that's right. as i was lucky. >> reporter: a few days earlier nixon tells his spokesman ron ziegler that he had no role in the scandal. >> let me say we can have confidence that the president was not involved. >> you know that. >> yes, i do. i absolutely do. >> reporter: in mid-may, the pressure builds as a senate committee begins watergate hearings. in the oval office, the president mocks the accents of committee southerners. >> now, what does this mean, mr. haldeman? what's this mean? screw it! >> nixon is caught in the web he created, and half of him knows
that he broke the law, abused his power, and the other half of him is the defense lawyer trying to deny it. >> reporter: but the tapes also capture the richard nixon who built the bridge to china. >> we've got to get along with them. or -- it's no problem for the next five years or the next 20 year, but it's the critical problem for our age. >> reporter: the tapes end july 12th, when the system is publicly revealed. richard nixon hangs on 13 months more. pete williams, nbc news, washington. when we come back here tonight, the fix is in. a do it yourself movement to save money.
finally tonight, a story for anyone who's ever had a broken toaster or a busted lamp. tossing those items in the trash or paying someone else a lot of money to fix them aren't the only options. turns out fixing them yourself may be easier you think. in fact, the idea has sparked an entire movement. as we hear now from nbc's kevin tibbles in chicago. >> reporter: when it comes to fixing things, it seems we're just not that handy anymore. that's why a new grassroots movement is catching on at places like chicago's kitchen sink cafe.
>> you don't need to replace everything that's broken, no matter what that is. >> if this thing can be fixed -- >> reporter: a once a month pilgrimage, everything from broken toasters and bikes to chairs and children's toys are all give an new lease on life by volunteer mr. and mrs. fixit. >> many things that break are very easy to fix. just open it up and see how it works and what isn't working. >> reporter: they call themselves community glue, inspired by similar gatherings around the country. >> my parents used everything and had it repaired and reused it, and we didn't throw away anything. >> reporter: marie and 8-year-old son tristan have come bearing his broken robot. >> i get really disturbed when i think about plastic things that go into landfills. >> reporter: our insatiable desire for the newest and fastest means we don't fix things, we junk them. every second in america four mobile devices are tossed. that's more than 150 million every year. wow. but this man is making good money off consumers' bad habits. people just toss it.
>> almost new computer, just throw it. they don't care. >> reporter: mark's company, ava electronics recycling collects 150,000 pounds of e-waste a month, repairing and reselling it or stripping it and melting it down. >> there's physical gold inside of here. >> reporter: indeed, one man's trash is another man's or boy's treasure. >> it's like you need a special tool or something. >> reporter: a new part for tristan's robot is fashioned on a 3d printer and a patch is sewn to fit where one eye was missing. >> everybody who comes here especially to have a small thing fixed, it's like a small miracle has been performed. >> reporter: every once in a while, everything old can be new again. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. that's our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being with us. i'm lester holt in for brian. we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night
good evening i'm terry mcsweeney. >> i'm jessica aguirre. are you ready? less than two weeks to go before the opening of the new eastern span of the bay bridge and here is your first look. this is an animation that shows what the ride will be like when you cross the new bridge. jodi hernandez has new details. hard to believe it is almost here. >> reporter: it really is. when the eastern span of the bay bridge opens, commuters will
experience wider decks, expansive views and hopefully a smoother ride. but we have to deal with a five-day closure. caltrans says it will be worth it. >> this should give people a sense of what the views will be like. >> reporter: this is animation showing what commuters will experience when the eastern span of the bay bridge opens in just a week and a half from now. >> you are going to come out of the tunnel and be out in the open right away. and you are going to see the tower and the cables immediately and have the great views of the east bay. >> reporter: before before it can open it has to close down so that the crews can finish their work and caltrans wants everybody to be geared up for the closure. >> we are asking the motorists to be safe and remain calm and have the right mind set. we're asking them to be aware of their